Deaf people worldwide have historically faced, and continue to face, discrimination with regard to the use of their national sign languages. This includes frequently confronting situations of not having equal and real time access to information and communication in their daily lives. This is particularly acute in educational settings, and the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the critical need to continue working to secure this right in emergency situations and during humanitarian disaster.
The World Federation of the Deaf considers the lack of meaningful sign language legislation on the national level a grave violation of deaf peoples’ fundamental rights.
The WFD’s 2020-2030 Strategic Direction calls for further promotion of the legal recognition of national sign languages. We are committed to supporting our Ordinary Members (national associations of deaf people) in their work to achieve meaningful legal recognition of their national sign languages. In addition to robust legislation with actionable rights, we aim to ensure national policies are put in place that implement these linguistic rights, namely, deaf people’s right to use their national sign languages in all areas of life.
Meaningful legal recognition of national sign languages lead to better enjoyment of human rights.
The World Federation of the Deaf is pleased to continue updating information regarding countries that have legally recognised their national sign languages.
|Country||Year of Sign Language Recognition|
|Belgium||2003, 2006 and 2019|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||2009|
|Papua New Guinea||2015|
|Republic of Korea||2015|
|Spain||2007 and 2010|
|Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)||1999|
Update: 22 January 2021
The WFD continues to receive updated information of sign language recognition. If your country’s national sign language legislation is not featured here, please contact the WFD’s Sign Language Rights Officer, Susana Stiglich at email@example.com with the evidence of this legislation.